Alnwick in top eight of England’s castles

Alnwick Castle. 'Picture by Jane Coltman
Alnwick Castle. 'Picture by Jane Coltman

Alnwick Castle has been named as one of the eight most amazing castles in England.

The accolade comes courtesy of the website historyextra.com, which has rounded up what it says are eight of the best castles in England.

Alnwick is the only castle to feature from the north of England. The others in the list are Dover; Warwick; Bodiam; Leeds; Arundel; Hever; and Rochester.

There has been a castle on the site at Alnwick for 1,000 years. For the last 700 years, it has been home to the Percy family and remains one of the largest inhabited castles in the UK.

Its description in the list says: ‘Recognised by many as the set of the Harry Potter films and the 2014 Downton Abbey Christmas special, Alnwick castle has for centuries dominated the landscape of Alnwick in Northumberland.

‘There has been much debate around when Alnwick castle was first constructed, but there was most probably a fortress erected there by the late 11th century. The majority of the castle was constructed during the 14th and 15th centuries under the ownership of the Percy family, who still inhabit the castle today.

‘Positioned close to the Scottish border, the castle was for the majority of the medieval period a key stronghold for English forces safeguarding the people from a Scottish invasion. With an almighty portcullis, strong battlements, a 21-ft drop below the drawbridge and walls more than seven feet thick, the castle was successfully defended throughout its history.

‘The impressive octagonal towers were built during the middle of the 14th century and they are adorned with 13 stone shields that symbolise the different families who have lived in the castle or married into the Percy family.

‘During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Dukes of Northumberland repaired a great deal of the castle after it fell into disrepair. These dukes transformed the medieval remains into an impressive gothic residence.

‘Today, many parts of the castle are open throughout the year for the public to view.’